My name is Jordan Marzuki, live in Jakarta, Indonesia. I love take pictures and illustration and design. I’m more likely a person who like photography. I’ve been taking pictures since I was child, thanks to my mom for let me hold her camera.
When did you first pick up a camera?
Probably around 9, it was Kodak fun saver 35 instant. Disposable cameras is great invention back then.
What’s photography for you?
Just like illustration and design, photography is one of several mediums to pour my imagination, it can be spontaneous or planned.
What image from ‘Family Picture Perfect’ have you been happiest with?
The parents quality time in the bed.
Which photographers inspire you?
Shelby Lee Adams and Diane Arbus. They almost had similarity when taking pictures, it’s bizarre yet intriguing.
Favorite living and deceased artist?
I was fascinated by Coen Brothers and Stanley Kubrick’s direction of photography and camera works. I find inspiration from films, and mostly history, world war ll, philosophy, foreign cultures, also when in the gloomy moods and low self esteem is the perfect situation to get inspired. I do enjoy making short film with friends and working on illustration.
What cameras do you use?
I always love small simple cameras for work. Right now I’m using the OlympusPen E-P1. People always asking me “where’s your real camera?" I always said “this is all I got, nothing else". There’s a past short film project involving panning camera works, only skateboard is used as the equipment. Everything is independent and low budget.
Tell me about your ‘Family Picture Perfect’
‘Family Picture Perfect’ series is a satire of conservative family values. When you came to someone’s house, the first thing you saw is a framed photographs of their family. They may look perfect in harmony but no one really knows the truth behind. It is a story about a happy and delightful conservative family with their own definition of perfection. Hardworking dad, dedicated housewife, and obedient children. Parents are loving their daughters too much, contradicted by the adolescent daughters who never understand the meaning of devotedness. Each picture from the series has it‘s own family value interpretation, for example there were a scene of a wolf holding the daughters, the wolf is depicted as the unwanted stranger that could take the daughters away from their parents, I could explain every meaning for each image, but I want the audience to decipher their own interpretation.
How did the idea for the shoot come about?
I always obsessed with subtle surreal movies especially Jean-Pierre Jeunet‘s Delicatessen (1991) and Roy Andersson’s Songs From the Second Floor (2002), both are mostly inspired me on the settings of this shoot.
“Family Picture Perfect” is aimed for family and kids, I always concerned about the idea of using a contrasting image of kids fashion that should be bright, colorful and cheerful instead of dark, but if we look back children literature “Three Little Pigs", or German classic “Struwwelpeter”, they’re violent and dark but had effective storytelling for the dreadful truth but never lose moral of the story.
How did you find your models and location?
I just looking through the people around me because I’m not feeling like to work with stranger. Finding the right kids model is quite a work, most of them are too cheerful for the photoshoot. I use my grandparents’ house as the location. The house is also the place that i spent most during my childhood, it‘s easier to blend with the location because the place is highly sentimental for me. The set was intended to be natural as possible, every props used in the background is really there before.
Can you talk us through the process of this photo shoot for the series?
The creative process took a quite a writing times for each image, two separated storyboards, one for the photoshoot, second is short film. The short film and photoshoot is almost quite the same flow, but the film is a process through the understanding of “Family Picture Perfect” while photos is just a metaphor of the family albums.
What future projects do you have coming up?
I‘m currently working for the art direction of my line The Balletcats. I’m planning to make full feature film.
Tidak perlu menjadi seorang rocket scientist untuk menciptakan mesin yang membuat kita menjelajah waktu dan angkasa. Studio Balletcats merupakan lorong waktu itu, menjadikan manusia bak ilmuwan dan penjelajah era.
The Balletcats terbentuk dari kolaborasi dua pekerja kreatif, Jordan Marzuki dan partnernya, Fatriana Zukhra. Awalnya merupakan proyek kuliah desain produk yang dikerjakan dengan manual hand illustration satu per satu langsung di atas T-shirt. Produk Balletcats lalu dijual melalui webstore. Strategi penjualan yang dikerjakan Jordan yakni me nyelipkan konsep dengan cara mencampurkan gaya storytelling ke dalam karyanya. Sedang kan Petty, sapaan akrab Fatriana, mengurus marketing strategy dan social-public relation. Balletcats menjadi salah satu pionir saat awal terbentuknya industri kreatif indie di Jakarta.
Saat ini, Jordan sedang mempersiapkan sebuah lm pendek dan desain produk berkonsep artwork yang terinspirasi oleh cendikiawan pada abad ke 18 dan 19. Menurutnya, ilustrasi manual adalah satusatunya cara untuk men dokumentasikan objek karena keterbatasan teknologi. “Saya mengangkat topik ini untuk membawa kembali seni yang dulunya diguna kan untuk ilmu pengetahuan,” tutur Jordan. Keduanya menyambut ELLE Decoration di rumah yang sekaligus menjadi tempat mereka mencipta dan menggarap karya. Ruang kreatif ini menyerupai laboratorium percobaan yang dipenuhi oleh hot toys seperti serdadu Jerman dengan detail seragam yang apik, pop-up book Alfred Hitchcock yang ditemukannya di bazaar buku, topeng berkepala kelinci, hingga jarum dan suntikan bekas milik kakek Petty yang seorang ahli bedah. Perasaan aneh sekaligus rasa ingin tahu yang muncul membuat siapapun yang datang ingin menjelajah isi laboratorium, layaknya seorang ilmuwan. “Sama seperti kucing, they are curious creatures,” jelas Petty sambil tertawa.
Jelaskan diri Anda dalam lima kata?
Jordan: Curious, satirical, subtle, low-key dan pasif.
Inspirasi dalam berkarya?
Jordan: Film dan buku, apapun genrenya. Ketertarikan Anda? Mengapa tertarik de ngan halhal tersebut?
Jordan: Saya sangat suka mengoleksi buku, terutama yang minim tulisan dan didominasi oleh gambar, bahkan hanya desain cover yang aneh. Buku itu menurut saya adalah mesin waktu: mulai dari konten, bahan, metode per cetakan, semua mempunyai karakter masing masing sesuai era penerbitan.
Apa definisi kreatif menurut Anda?
Jordan: Bagaimana seseorang membuat ima jinasi abstrak menjadi sesuatu yang tangible, apapun itu bentuknya.
Selanjutnya, apa yang akan Anda kerjakan?
Petty: Seperti tagline brand kita, ‘Crafted for Felinist’, kita masih akan terus fokus untuk me nyalurkan obsesi kita terhadap kucing. Projek selanjutnya, Cats Hall of Fame, yaitu sebuah blog dan dokumenter yang membahas siapa konsumen kita, dan menceritakan hubungan mereka dengan kucingnya. Semua memiliki latar belakang dan sudut pandang yang sangat berbeda dan menarik, tetapi tetap pecinta kucing. Dari musisi, aktris film indie, aktivis, sampai bintang film dewasa.
French author Jules Verne once said: “I believe cats to be spirits come to Earth. A cat, I am sure, could walk on a cloud without coming through.”
There is something graceful yet mysterious about cats. They are intelligent and elegant creatures that have fascinated mankind for centuries. Jordan Marzuki, a graphic designer and filmmaker from Jakarta, who is currently studying at the Basel School of Design in Switzerland, has loved cats ever since he was a child. “I think that cats are cool and mysterious,” he says. “If cats were humans, they would probably be the most confusing persons you’d ever meet. Besides, they have very beautiful-looking features and a shape that can be represented in unlimited possibilities. I currently have three cats at home; they were all stray cats that we rescued.”
In 2008, Jordan took part in a college flea market, for which the students had to sell their own creations. That’s when he came up with the initial idea for The Balletcats. “The name wasn’t inspired by the Spandau Ballet, but rather from my own cat that had a very unusual ballet pose every time he was asleep,” Jordan explains. “I started selling hand-painted shirts and sweaters, and it turned out to be a good start.” His designs were popular among the flea market crowd that Jordan decided to take this project to the next level by partnering with Fatriana Zukhra, a fashion business student.
Together, they create an eye-catching and unique collection of clothes for both adults and kids with feline designs. They range from T-shirts with prints of cats striking a pose, to cat-related quotes such as “The entire cat population is my best friend,” or “I hate humans, I prefer cats.” While the clothes account for the biggest part of the collection, The Balletcats also offers other products on its website, like prints and bags. “We carry a variety of items,” Jordan says. “Basically we love to make sweatshirts, most of them obviously for cat lovers, but our customers love surprises, and that’s why we include other products as well.”
Inspiration, Jordan adds, is everywhere around him. “I always take notes wherever I go,” he says. “Together with my partner, we brainstorm our ideas. Sometimes it happens that our ideas are too diabolical, so we have to abandon them in the creative process. We also hardly have any collaboration with other illustrators or designers because we would like to keep our style consistent.”
Staying true to their vision, Jordan and Fatriana also take their time when coming up with new designs. “To be honest, we are quite slow in terms of launching a new collection, and it is perhaps not something to be proud of, but we don’t want to be trapped into seasonal deadlines,” Jordan says. “We can just release any product at any given time, and this is exactly what keeps us going — to enjoy what we’re doing without any pressure.”
The Balletcats products are all made in a small outlet in Bandung that uses sustainable practices. They are available on the website as well as selected retail outlets like bobobobo.com, Dia.Lo.Gue Artspace in Kemang, South Jakarta, and Cave & Cove in Bali.
“Our customers have very different backgrounds; anyone from toddlers to elderly people can wear our clothes,” Jordan says. “It could be a crazy cat lady, or just a crazy lady. We are happy about anyone who likes our designs, but of course it is also nice if they understand our artwork and presentation.” Although Jordan insists that in terms of business The Balletcats will take it one step at a time, he already has big plans for the future — from a small bookstore to the production of a documentary film. “All related to cats, of course,” he smiles.
Jordan Marzuki specializes in the odd and unexpected in his slightly deranged label, The Balletcats – tote bags and sweatshirts with illustrations of dissected cats, rifle-wielding doggies, and felines wearing human stoles; an action figure of a boy, ribs exposed, with a cat down his shorts.
It seems just right, then, that every now and then a giant lizard slithers through the house he shares with his architect father, Pris, and three cats. Or that there’s an occasional visit from “some kind of stinky animal – what’s it called, a skunk. We’re sitting on the edge of a swamp and have almost everything here in the way of wildlife”. The Marzuki family had been living on the outskirts of Jakarta for 15 years before knocking down their house and building a new one. Jordan felt sad, he says, to see the old place demolished, “but excited as well. It was a collaboration between me and my mother and father. We thought it would be good if we could make somewhere for my father to work after he retired. And my mother had always wanted an open space with good circulation of air.” Sadly, Jordan’s mum died two years ago, so she didn’t have much o fa chance to enjoy the new house. And Jordan’s dad doesn’t get to spend much time there now – he’s still going to his office every day. “If you work outside the home, you can spend two or three hours a day traveling because of the traffic.”
Jordan, who studied in Jakarta and Switzerland, usually has the place to himself. As soon as it was built, he gave up working at a design firm and set up his office at home. “It’s so unproductive commuting in Jakarta,” he says. “I know I’m putting an emphasis on traffic jams, but that’s how it is here. I also like the fact that if I’ve finished some work, I can go to my bed for five or 10 minutes.” And that’s only a step or two from his work area - his part of the house consists of one room with a mezzanine level. His bed is at one end of the room; desks, designed by his father and made locally, are at the other, and in between are shelves full of his stuff. “It’s basically a one—stop service for living,” he says. “You can sleep here, you can work here, you can do anything here.” When clients visit, Jordan says, “I remove the bed. I want to move all my personal stuff up into the mezzanine level, but at the moment that’s used for storage.”
Jordan set up The Balletcats (named after an unusual pose struck by one of his cats) in 2008 with his girlfriend, Fatriana Zukhra, both students at the time. She now comes over to his place every weekend “to brainstorm – she’s involved in all the work I do”. Balletcats, he says, “is my statement to humanity about how I hate people being bad to animals and nature”. In spite of rifle—wielding cats, he tries
not to hit the audience over the head with a Sledgehammer. “I want it to be very subtle so people don’t notice there’s a statement there at all.”
Over the years, Balletcats continued partly as an antidote to some of the less appealing work he had to do as a graphic designer. “I was working at an office five days a week and was overworked and under appreciated,” he says. “The worst client was a real estate company — most of the work was for that kind of commercial culture. The Balletcats was my side job to keep me sane.” These days, Jordan, who describes himself as a multi—disciplinary designer, works on books and freelance design, and I’m starting to be serious on film-making. I’ve also got a children’s book coming up.
Apart from Jordan’s room, the house is calmly minimal: “That’s my dad’s look - he doesn’t buy trinkets, he never buys decoration for the house, he’s very Indonesian in his style and the way he organises things.” Jordan’s look, on the other hand, is “more a cabinet of curiosities”. Even as a kid, he says, his room was “kind of messy” and he reckons he got his love of having lots of stuff around him from his mother, “who
always bought me things for my room when she travelled”. It’s when he’s traveling himself that he picks up most of his bits and bobs, including medical paraphernalia. “I like to Visit thrift shops and off the beaten track stores around the world,” he says. “Every time I travel I manage to buy masks and other things - I wouldn’t say I like creepy stuff, but I do like to buy things with faces.” He also picks up a stack of books
wherever he goes. “I like to buy foreign language books that I don’t understand– go to lots of secondhand bookshops. I like children’s books that are really really bad - politically incorrect ones with lots of violence.”
His bookshelves, stuffed with all his offbeat books, “are one of the reasons I like to be here, they keep me inspired. I think I’ll stop buying trinkets, because it’s starting to get dusty in here. My dad’s much better at cleaning than me, I’m sorry to say, and I never let him in here.”